Who is messier? Who’s the better driver? More responsible? Which one is which? Twins Anna Claire and Karrigan Rowse are fraternal, but their resemblance in looks, voices, interests and friendly personalities — and tendency to speak in unison — is so striking, they could be taken as identical. The two Northwestern State University seniors grew up in Lake Charles, graduated from Barbe High School in 2020 and began their college journey during the COVID-19 pandemic. They are the oldest of five children with two sisters who are 18 months apart in 12th and 10th grade, and a younger brother in fifth grade.
NSU was not initially on their radar, but a nudge from their grandfather, Jackie Self of Leesville, a 1979 graduate of NSU, pointed them in the right direction. They are now completing clinicals at Rapides Regional Medical Center and will collect their undergraduate degrees in nursing during commencement exercises on Dec. 13.
Anna Claire and Karrigan sat down with NSU staff to talk about growing up twins, their plans for the future and their experiences at NSU. They conversation has been condensed and edited for clarity.
Do you often get mistaken for one another?
In Unison: Every single day.
Who is older?
Anna Claire: I’m older by a minute and I make sure she doesn’t forget it.
What attracted you to NSU?
Karrigan: When we came here, our recruiter was nice and we met [Director of Recruiting and Enrollment Management] Van Erikson and he was super nice and we met Dr. [Chris] Maggio, who was president at the time, and all of them made us feel like we weren’t just a number. They wanted us here because of who we were and what we can contribute to Northwestern. The nursing program is also really good. They were really personable to us when we came.
Anna Claire: I could say the same thing. We came together. We didn’t want to stay too close to home. We stayed at NSU, which was the best decision that we made.
You started college during COVID. Can you talk about some of the challenges and how going to college during COVID met with your expectations?
Anna Claire: We graduated during COVID, which was very weird. We didn’t expect to ever have to do anything like that but I think we made the most of it. We got to do Freshman Connection, even though it was different. We joined a sorority, so we got that experience. We joined the BCM [Baptist Collegiate Ministry], we joined other clubs. We still made the most out of it, even though it was a very different experience than we were expecting.
Karrigan: I think we didn’t know what to expect coming in. It was everyone’s first time doing things like that, so it was comforting to know we weren’t the only ones that had to deal with that. Everyone else around us was also dealing with that, too.
What are some of the other things you are involved in?
Karrigan: Alpha Lambda Delta and I’m a presidential ambassador for the Recruiting office.
Anna Claire: I work at the WRAC as a personal trainer.
When did you realize you wanted to become a nurse?
Anna Claire: I always had the feeling that I wanted to help people that couldn’t help themselves and I also knew that I wanted to go into something with kids, too, but also wanted to go into healthcare. We did babysit a lot throughout our high school experience, and we still do that now. Getting the opportunity to work with kids and also work in the healthcare field was something that I always wanted to do.
Karrigan: When our little brother was little, he was always in and out of Texas Children’s Hospital in Houston, so I think that made me want to be a nurse, seeing how the doctors and nurses treated us as a family and the comfort that they brought us made me want to do that for somebody else.
Can you talk about your experiences in clinicals?
Anna Claire: I’m in pediatric ICU. I’m leaning more towards pediatrics right now, not really the critical care side. I feel like when I do become a nurse, I’ll get more critical care experience and I will be comfortable in that aspect but as of right now I just want to do pediatrics.
Karrigan: I’m in the nursery. I didn’t think that I wanted to be a nursery nurse. I really always leaned towards pediatric but now that I’m doing my preceptorship in clinicals in nursery, that may be something that I’m going to consider whenever I graduate.
Do you have employment lined up?
Anna Claire: We’ve talked to nurses at Rapides and management, so we did apply and we’re just waiting to hear back. That’s where we want to end up when we graduate to get more experience. Our goal is to go to Texas Children’s in the future to work.
Do you think you will always work in the same hospital?
Karrigan: Right now, just because we’ve done everything together and there’s not anyone else in the picture, I think it’s good. For cheaper rent, if we ever were to move to Texas, which has always been a goal. It’s cool that we get to do things together and I think we should stay together as long as possible because when we’re older and we do get married and have kids we’re not going to see each other as much we’re trying to enjoy the time that we have together.
In addition to your majors, what are some other ways that you are very much alike?
Anna Claire: We like to go to concerts. We have the same music taste. We like to work out.
Karrigan: We always have a workout buddy. We like to travel, so we go on spontaneous trips sometimes.
Do you have disagreements or arguments?
Anna Claire: I think it’s evident, we literally do everything together. But we’re trying to get better at not arguing. It’s just we’re together 24/7.
Karrigan: We do separate a little bit two days out of the week but we’re just together a lot and we’re just tired, so we just get argumentative.
Do you have the same friend group?
Anna Claire: We did a summer camp two summer ago with WinShape and we got to be apart, which was great. We’ve always been known as The Twins, but we were actually known as Anna Claire and Karrigan which we really liked, and we got to meet new friends and have new memories apart and it made us value our time together a lot better.
What are some other things you’ve done to forge your own identities?
Silence. Staring at each other.
Are there some things that one of you really likes that the other doesn’t?
Staring at each other. Silence.
Karrigan: A lot of people think twins are completely different but we’re more like the twins that are way more alike than we are different.
Anna Claire: But we’re not inseparable. We can do our own things. We don’t need each other 24/7 but we are more alike than we are different.
What are some things that each of you does that the other doesn’t do or an interest you have?
Staring at each other. Quiet discussion, then speaking simultaneously.
Anna Claire: We always have a buddy with us. We don’t go places alone.
Karrigan: We just have a built-in buddy everywhere we go and everything we do.
So, you are basically best friends.
Both: Right. Exactly.
What’s the best thing about being a twin?
Both: You always have someone with you.
Anna Claire: We study together. I wish our brains could just go together when we take tests because one of us knows something the other doesn’t, but it’s good that we bounce off each other’s ideas.
Karrigan: I don’t think we could get through nursing school without each other. I think nursing school is hard as it is and since we do have each other it makes things so much easier, knowing you’re not the only person going through the struggles that you’re going through.
Is one of your more assertive than the other?
Anna Claire: One of us is more outgoing than the other, people have said.
Karrigan: I think more I’m assertive. I like to be right.
Anna Claire: Yeah, she is.
What have been some of your most memorable experiences at NSU?
Karrigan: For me, since I work in the Recruiting Office, I get to work N Side View Day. When I did go to N Side View I got to see all the people who influenced me to come to Northwestern and I think it’s cool that when I work N Side View Day, I get to meet future students. When they come to NSU I’ve already made that connection with them, so it’s cool to build a relationship before they even come to Northwestern.
Anna Claire: I’d say my best memory is I joined Tri Sigma, so getting my Big and my Little and knowing that I can go to them for anything and they can come to me for anything.
What would you say to someone deciding to come to NSU for Nursing school?
Karrigan: I would say I felt home at Northwestern, and I have other friends that go to other schools and I feel that I’ve gained a lot more knowledge and the experiences, since we do get to travel to other hospitals and we do simulations and things and it’s given me a lot more confidence in myself that I didn’t have prior to coming to Northwestern. Nursing school and Northwestern have taught me that I don’t know everything and I’m very prepared for what’s to come in the work force.
Anna Claire: I’d say the same. They prepare you for the real world. You’re not going to know everything, but it does get you prepared and you feel more comfortable when you have instructors that challenge you and you also need to go into nursing with an open mind because you have to go every field. You have to go through your med/surge, pediatrics, so be open to what specialty you want to do because that may not be what you want to do.
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